Lord Mayor Carl Austin-Behan has spoken out against homophobia
Manchester Lord Mayor Carl Austin-Behan has spoken out after he was subjected to ‘hurtful and offensive’ homophobic abuse at a Justin Bieber gig.
Carl Austin-Behan is the UK’s first openly gay Lord Mayor, and was called a “dirty faggot and a dirty gay” during Bieber’s sold-out show at Manchester Arena last night (Monday 24 October).
“I’m in a privileged position at the moment as the lord mayor and one of the things I’ve stood my ground on is that we need to make sure we report hate crime and get that message across,” he told The Guardian. “The fact of highlighting that it’s still out there – however small it is, you still have to report it – because there are still people out there who feel it’s all right to be abusive.”
He continued: “I’m quite a strong person, I can take that. But if people are still saying those things about someone’s sexuality, I find that really offensive and hurtful. It’s important that we stand our ground and that we demand the respect we should get. It may seem trivial to some people, a bit of name-calling, but it’s highly offensive.”
While passing outside the venue, he overheard two young women arguing with a ticket tout when one of them said “I’m not paying that to see a dirty gay”. He then asked “Do you think that’s appropriate, in this day and age?’” – before being let into a tirade of abuse.
“That’s when the barrage of comments came back [saying] ‘Am I gay? Am I gay? Am I a dirty faggot?’ and all that sort of stuff that started coming out.”
The Lord Mayor took to Twitter to share images of those who he claims hurled abuse at him, calling for the police to action:
He added: “I was annoyed. I wasn’t shaken up, I was annoyed. Because it was a Justin Bieber concert there was a lot of young people there, and it was a mix of people. I was more annoyed that people could go to a gig like that and feel they could get away with saying things like that.”
Mr Austin-Behan is also the youngest Lord Mayor in history, and was previously thrown out of the RAF for his sexuality before rules were overturned in the year 2000.